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Rural training programs : effectiveness and profitability


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Kilpatrick, Susan Isabel 1997 , 'Rural training programs : effectiveness and profitability', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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A diversity of groups including the National Farmers Federation,
politicians and business leaders, stress the need for farmers to upgrade
their skills in order to compete effectively on international markets.
There are public demands for improved environmental management of
farming land which require farmers to make changes in addition to those
changes required for global competitiveness. These calls for change come
at the same time as· Australia reforms its training system.
The National Farmers Federation believes that farmers will be motivated
to participate in education and training if it can be shown that training
leads to changes which improve farm profitability. Hitherto there has
been a lack of empirical data on the effectiveness of training in agriculture
and a consequent uncertainty about what sort of training and which
delivery modes are most effective in facilitating profitable changes to
farm management or agricultural practice.
A multi-method methodology was used in this study. A large sample of
Australian farm businesses from the Australian Bureau of Statistics'
Agricultural Financial Survey 1993-94 provided cross-section,
quantitative data on farm managers' education levels, recent and planned
participation in training and changes to practice, in addition to financial
data. The quantitative data were analysed within constraints imposed by
the Australian Bureau of Statistics in relation to confidentiality and the
amount of technical support allowed for analysis.
This quantitative data set is illuminated by a semi-structured interview
survey of 65 Tasmanian farmers, 45 of whom had completed one of three
agricultural courses. The methodology proved most appropriate with the
quantitative and qualitative data providing a richer understanding of
farmers, change, training and profitability. The findings relate to (i) the relationship between education/training and
profitability, (ii) the relationship between training and change, and (iii)
future training.
Considering farm businesses of similar asset value, large farm businesses
managed by those with formal, agricultural qualifications are more
profitable than other farm businesses, and more profitable farm
businesses of all sizes tend to participate in more training.
Farm businesses where there are changes to practice which are intended
to improve profitability are more profitable than those where there are no
changes. Also, farm managers who participate in training are more likely
to make changes to their practice. Whilst a large proportion of farm business managers intend to participate
in some training in the next three years, most intend to participate in
training about agricultural practices. In contrast, areas identified by
'experts' where practising farmers require training are management
practices, marketing, and communication skills. Farm managers with a
low level of education are less likely to train and less likely to intend to
train in the future. The study makes some suggestions about program
attributes which would contribute to effective training delivery in the

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Kilpatrick, Susan Isabel
Keywords: Agricultural extension work
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1997 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1998. Includes bibliographical references

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